Atlantis Online
October 23, 2021, 03:16:10 am
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length
News: Ancient Crash, Epic Wave
http://www.iht.com/articles/2006/11/14/healthscience/web.1114meteor.php?page=1

 
  Home Help Arcade Gallery Links Staff List Calendar Login Register  

Plate tectonics

Pages: [1]   Go Down
  Print  
Author Topic: Plate tectonics  (Read 1260 times)
Rebecca
Superhero Member
******
Posts: 5201



« on: May 16, 2007, 06:58:55 am »

Key principles

The division of the outer parts of the Earth's interior into lithosphere and asthenosphere is based on their mechanical differences and in the ways that heat is transferred. The lithosphere is cooler and more rigid, whilst the asthenosphere is hotter and mechanically weaker. Also, the lithosphere loses heat by conduction whereas asthenosphere transfers heat by convection and has a nearly adiabatic temperature gradient. This division should not be confused with the chemical subdivision of the Earth into (from innermost to outermost) core, mantle, and crust. The lithosphere contains both crust and some mantle. A given piece of mantle may be part of the lithosphere or the asthenosphere at different times, depending on its temperature, pressure and shear strength. The key principle of plate tectonics is that the lithosphere exists as separate and distinct tectonic plates, which ride on the fluid-like (visco-elastic solid) asthenosphere. Plate motions range from a few millimeters per year (about as fast as our fingernails grow) to about 15 centimeters per year (about as fast as our hair grows).

The plates are around 100 km (60 miles) thick and consist of lithospheric mantle overlain by either of two types of crustal material: oceanic crust (in older texts called sima from silicon and magnesium) and continental crust (sial from silicon and aluminium). The two types of crust differ in thickness, with continental crust considerably thicker than oceanic (50 km vs 5 km).

One plate meets another along a plate boundary, and plate boundaries are commonly associated with geological events such as earthquakes and the creation of topographic features like mountains, volcanoes and oceanic trenches. The majority of the world's active volcanoes occur along plate boundaries, with the Pacific Plate's Ring of Fire being most active and famous. These boundaries are discussed in further detail below.

Tectonic plates can include continental crust or oceanic crust, and typically, a single plate carries both. For example, the African Plate includes the continent and parts of the floor of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. The distinction between continental crust and oceanic crust is based on the density of constituent materials; oceanic crust is denser than continental crust owing to their different proportions of various elements, particularly, silicon. Oceanic crust is denser because it has less silicon and more heavier elements ("mafic") than continental crust ("felsic"). As a result, oceanic crust generally lies below sea level (for example most of the Pacific Plate), while the continental crust projects above sea level (see isostasy for explanation of this principle).

Report Spam   Logged


Pages: [1]   Go Up
  Print  
 
Jump to:  

Powered by EzPortal
Bookmark this site! | Upgrade This Forum
SMF For Free - Create your own Forum
Powered by SMF | SMF © 2016, Simple Machines
Privacy Policy